If you’re a music junkie and you’re always looking for the fattest bass and juiciest sound, you will fall in love with analog synths. Despite all the progress that took place in digital audio, nothing can beat analog.
Moreover, if you’re a DIY-person, you’ll have all the fun by creating new circuits and knobs. You’ll generate and discover new sounds.
In the early 70s, analog synthesizers were expensive, however, the past decade has witnessed the spread of highly affordable synths.
I’ve gathered for you some of the best analog synths under 500$. Therefore, if you’re a beginner or an experienced musician and you need to give analog synths a try, you’ll find what you need.
The 5 Best Analog Synths under $500
Due to the renaissance of analog synthesis, you’ll find yourself surrounded by hundreds of options. How about we narrow down these options a bit?
First of all, decide if you need a monophonic synth or a polyphonic one.
1. Arturia MicroBrute Monophonic Synth
This is a great option due to its price and size. It has a great amount of sonic flexibility. It’s able to create musical lead lines and bass lines.
What I find special about that synth, is the 6 control voltage in jack and the 2 control voltage out jack feature. This allows you to connect to external synthesizer components.
Moreover, it can store 8 different 64-step sequences. It comes with a MIDI in jack, so you can use any MIDI keyboard as a controller.
This is an easy-to-use sequencer and it’s simple to generate patterns. With the updated Sub-oscillator, you can add an octave down and you can mix a 5th harmonic. The Mod Matrix Patch bay makes you route 3 modulation sources to any 6 modulation destinations.
- Stunning, inspiring, limited edition design: MicroBrute Creation is here to get noticed, with metallic trim and a striking full-face design, this is the perfect synth to set you aside from the crowd
- Pure analog power: MicroBrute features a raw, 100% analog signal path
- Steiner-Parker filter: refine MicroBrutes tone with this sweet-sounding output filter
2. Korg Monologue Synth
This is another affordable analog and monophonic synth. It’s fully programmable and suitable for all players. Its new filter, drive, LFO, and modulation give you powerful bases and leads.
The LFO capabilities can expand with higher rates and modulation. Moreover, it has 16 step buttons for fast real-time step edits
Through this synth, you can create mono sounds that show its single-voice design. Moreover, the sequencer has been expanded which allows editing.
- VCF changed for 2-pole with more bite
- DRIVE added for rich bass and cutting leads
- LFO capabilities expanded with higher rates and deeper modulation
3. Novation Bass Station II Synth
This monophonic analog gives you an outstanding sound quality for lead and bass lines. It has 128 presets, 32- step arpeggiator with many pattern choices. Moreover, it has a 32-step sequencer with memory slots.
The synth comes with MIDI in and out, so you can experiment as much as you want. It comes with space for 64 of your own sounds.
This is a “synth-action” keyboard, which means that each key is sprung. Therefore, keys are light to touch and very responsive.
- Create a huge variety of sounds- Two tuneable, analogue oscillators offer a selection of four waveforms, a sub-oscillator, plus noise and ring modulation to help you achieve the sound you’re looking for.
- Enormous bass and shrieking leads- Switch the Classic Filter between low-, high- and band-pass modes with 12 and 24dB/octave slopes to make the Bass Station II as mellow or aggressive as you want.
- Improved analogue filter stage- Two distinct analogue filter types: the classic multi-mode filter and a new 24dB Acid Filter offer a massive variation in sonic possibilities.
4. Korg Volca Keys Analog Synth
This synth comes ready with everything you might need in one box. You’ll receive a power supply so you can easily plug it in and play right away.
It has a 27-key analog synth that delivers powerful sound. The Volca synth has a simple structure that includes delay effect and a sequencer. All these features, let you enjoy simple and at the same time deep sounds.
- Three note true analogue synthesis
- Voicing function lets anyone create sounds easily
- Self-tuning function for constant, stable pitch
5. Korg Minilogue Polysynth
If you’re looking for an analog synthesizer that can play more than one note at the same time, then that Korg synth is worth the money.
It has a polyphonic step, motion sequencer, filter options, oscilloscope display, multiple sound shaping, and onboard tape-style delay. All these features together make the Korg synth easy and fun. It’s suitable for all musicians of all types.
- 4-voice Analog/Digital Synthesizer with 2 VCOs per Voice
- 16-step Polyphonic Sequencer
- Digital Multi-engine
Buying Guide to Choose the Best Synth
There are some important features that you need to look for before spending your money on an analog synth. In this part, I shall cover them in detail.
A Synth With a Sequencer
A built-in sequencer will make you able to write a melody or a bassline into the on-board memory. This will leave your hands free to do other stuff, such as cutoff and resonance.
This is an essential feature if you want to add effects or if you need to create an acid-like sound.
Choose a Suitable Size
I know that gigantic synths are tempting and cool. However, if you have a limited studio space, you need to choose a compact one.
Pick a synth that can fit your desk and is ready to be used all the time. If you’re going to use it outside your studio, I recommend buying a small synth that can fit in a bag.
Remember that the size of the synth has no set criteria, it just depends on your place and activity.
Monophonic vs. Polyphonic
It’s essential to decide which one works best for you before making a purchase. A monophonic synthesizer can only play one note at a time. It’s usually smaller and less expensive.
On the other hand, a polyphonic synth allows you to play multiple notes at the same time.
I can’t tell you which one to go for, because it simply depends on your music type and preferences.
Understand the Connection Type
You’ll always see the word MIDI when you choose your synth. This stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. This relates to the connection type and the language by which synths communicate.
Dome synths don’t have a MIDI, however, there are some accessories that you can buy to connect your synth to others. I personally recommend buying a synth with its MIDI.
More Fundamental Features
There are some advanced features that you should be aware of.
It generates an electrical wave that is sent through the speaker and becomes sound.
Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO)
This helps generate different pitches based on the voltage that it receives. This voltage determines the frequency. The way you trigger the MIDI note or how you press a key sends different voltages to the VCO.
Voltage Controlled Filter (VCF)
The electrical signal passes through the VCA before they go to the speakers. The VCA removes any frequencies that are above or below a certain frequency.
Before buying a synth, you need to decide what type of music you’re going to play, where will you play and what is your budget.
The previous list includes some of the best analog synths under 500$. You’ll simply find what you need among them. Moreover, our buying guide shall help you understand more features to make you pick the most suitable synth.
If you’re looking for the most budget-friendly option, go for Korg Volca Keys. This has a compact size and a built-in speaker. It comes with voice functions, so you can create sounds easily. Moreover, the loop sequencer lets you record phrases as you play them.
However, my top pick shall be Arturia Microbrute. This synth gives you outstanding sound quality. It comes with its MIDI and voltage control oscillator. It helps you generate patterns easily.
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